What Does Like Father Like Son Mean?

Like Father Like Son Meaning

Definition: Children often look and act similar to their parents.

This expression is sometimes changed to be like mother, like daughter to refer to women.

Origin of Like Father Like Son

This idiom existed in its current form since at least 1616 when it appeared in a book called Bibliotheca Scholastica Instructissima, which included proverbs collected by an Englishman named Thomas Draxe. However, it existed in English in other forms before this.

It also existed in other cultures and languages before English. Even the Bible has a female version of this expression, like mother like daughter, in Ezekiel 16:44:

Everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb about you: “Like mother, like daughter.”

Examples of Like Father Like Son

like son like fatherIn our first example dialogue, two friends discuss the proverb, wondering whether or not it applies to the man and his father.

Ezekiel: Everyone always uses that old saying like father, like son to describe my dad and me. I never understand why. The two of us could not be more different.

Maggie: Do you think so? I’ve seen your father, and you look the same, except for the age difference.

Ezekiel: It’s true that we look alike, but people think we act alike as well. We disagree on almost everything, though.

Maggie: Maybe you just have the same mannerisms.

father like son definitionHere is another example, in which one friend uses the expression to say that her friend is very similar to his father.

Mila: What’s the matter? You look upset.

Tyrion: I just got off the phone with my father. We had a huge argument. He’s just incredibly stubborn!

Mila: Like father, like son, I suppose.

Tyrion: What is that supposed to mean?

Mila: Just that you’re stubborn, too. I assume you get that from your father.

More Examples

In this excerpt, a son believes he is so similar to his father that he got a tattoo of this proverb.

  • His dad took in the entire scene from the stands. These two are tight, so much so that the son has a tattoo across his chest that reads, “Like father, like son.” –Denver Post

In our second excerpt, the idiom describes a son who is similar to his father because both of them are excellent athletes.

  • He had become a two-time Olympian, a television reporter intoned, just like his dad decades before.

  “Like father, like son?” the reporter asked. –Washington Post


The phrase like father, like son means that children often appear and act just like their parents.